Lexus LFA 2011 review: snap shot
The last time I was in something worth $750,000 it had a bathroom and a pool. There are only 10 (...
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Supercars. Who needs them? No-one really, and yet they are dream machines around the world.
Right at the top today is the outrageous Lamborgini Aventador, which trumpets everything from a carbon fibre chassis to a 350km/h top speed, 2.9-second sprint to 100km/h, and a $745,600 price tag in Australia.
Lamborghini only sold 32 cars in here in 2011, despite the global success of the V10-powered Gallardo that goes up against the Ferrari 458, yet there is already a two-year waiting list for the Aventador LP700-4.
That could be the styling, or the performance, or just the fact that 2011 brought an all-new Lamborghini V12 flagship with - translating its name - 700 horsepower and all-wheel drive.
The first time I drove a V12 Lamborghini, back in the 1980s, it was a disaster. The borrowed Countach was grumpy, awfully uncomfortable, hot and cramped, and then a radiator hose sprung a leak . . .
It was outrageous, and memorable, but not in a good way. So I am interested to see how the Aventador goes, especially as it attracts the attention of the Italian Police - "documents please" - just 30 minutes of legal-speed driving after leaving the Lamborghini factory.
How do you measure value on a car as costly as the Aventador? It's mostly about the satisfaction it delivers to someone who has a fleet of cars and most likely a giant boat and a couple of houses, together with the bragging rights ability to shut down the owner of a Ferrari 599 or Lexus LF-A. And that's not me.
Still, if you consider the Aventador against the Lexus LF-A at $700,00 and the outgoing Ferrari 599, it makes a solid case thanks to the styling, performance and lots of luxury equipment. The Lexus feels pretty ordinary against the Aventador, despite its track-tuned development.
The starter button alone in the Lamborghini - it sits in the centre console and has a flip-up red cover like the ones used for missile launches - could be enough to win some people. "The car is already a sellout. Our whole allocation for 2012 is gone," says Martin Roller of Lamborghini.
"Nationally, we'll probably do 50 cars this year. Last year was down, of course, because we were waiting for the Aventador. But we've got it now and it's a cracker."
The technical presentation from the engineers at Lamborghini headquarters in Sant'Agata goes on for nearly three house, and that's before the visit to the production line and carbon fibre laboratory.
The highlights are the full carbon fibre chassis, claimed as the first in the world and displayed with aluminium suspension assemblies bolted to the passenger cell, as well as the high-tech V12 engine, Haldex all-wheel drive and a bank of computers to keep everything talking and pointing in the right direction.
There is less attention to the 17.1l/100km fuel economy and CO2 emissions of a naughty 398 grams/kilometre, even though Lamborghini says this is a significant 20 per cent improvement over the car's Murcielago predecessor.
The shape of the Aventador, designed in-house after a competitive pitch against Lamborghini's owners at Audi, is just plain outrageous. Lots of car companies say their sports cars are inspired by fighter jets but it's true for Lamborgini, even if the back-end view looks a lot like a scarab beetle.
The nose is chiselled in true super sportscar style, the wheels and tyres are huge, and the Aventador has the scissor-lift doors - easy for close-in parking - that have become a V12 Lamborghini signature.
Inside, the digital dashboard mimics old-style analogue dials - but with far more information - and there are two comfy and supportive bucks with a giant centre console. But it's hard to find somewhere to put the push-button key that unlocks the car, and the luggage space is - at best - tight.
No-one from ANCAP is going to crash an Aventador, but the results of the company's own testing - on display as part of an illustration on repair work - shows the massive strength of the carbon fibre passenger cell. There is also ESP with a variety of driving modes, since some owners will take to racetracks, giant brakes with ABS control, parking radar and a - much needed - reversing camera.
Time with the Aventador is theatre. It's also cracking good fun, even sticking religiously to the Italian motorway speed limits behind an Audi pace car and over snow-drenched minor roads.
From the first moment that V12 engine fires behind my head, the car has me. The first time I uncork all the power, and feel a kick in the back that makes a V8 Supercar pretty bit tame, I wonder how anyone could possibly use an Aventador on the road every day.
But it's surprisingly docile when you leave the robotised manual gearbox in drive, with all the driving assist systems set for manual support. It will dribble easily in traffic, isn't completely impossible to park, and is comfy and cosseting.
Get the car cracking through some turns and there is a little reluctance from the nose, but application of power gets things sorted for a neutral balance and it will really hustle along any road at almost any - sane - speed.
The best thing about the Aventador is the reaction it gets from other people. Jaws drop, camera phones fire into action, and people just wave and cheer. Even the police eventually smile and send me on my way.
In Australia, the Aventador will be just plain outrageous and exotic and desirable. It's not for everyone, and most people will dismiss it as a piece of silly irrelevance, but it's good that cars like the flagship Lamborghini still exist.
The Aventador is a silly car and silly money, but so much fun. It's a true dream machine.
Price: from $754,600
Warranty: 3 years/ unlimited km
Resale: New model
Service interval: 15,000km or 12 months
Safety: four airbags, ABS, ESP, TC.
Crash rating: not tested
Enigne: 515W/690Nm 6.5-litre V12
Body: 2-door, 2-seat
Dimensions: 4780mm (L); 2030m (W); 1136mm (H); 2700mm (WB)
Transmission: 7-speed robotised manual; all-wheel-drive
Economy: 17.2l/100km; 398g/ CO2
|LP700||6.5L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$314,490 – 361,460||2012 Lamborghini Aventador 2012 LP700 Pricing and Specs|
|(base)||6.5L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$298,540 – 343,090||2012 Lamborghini Aventador 2012 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|LP700-4||6.5L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||No recent listings||2012 Lamborghini Aventador 2012 LP700-4 Pricing and Specs|